SEMINOLE, FL -- Stuart Daw, a veteran of more than six decades in the coffee business and pioneer of both specialty coffee and office refreshment services, died here early this month. He was 81.
Daw, a native of Canada, entered the coffee industry in 1950 with Club Coffee Co. (Toronto). In 1964, he established Stuart's Branded Coffee, and directed its growth into the largest foodservice roaster in Canada. It later was renamed Goodhost Foods Ltd.
At the same time, he owned the first chain of Canadian gourmet coffee stores. In 1967, he founded Red Carpet Coffee Service Ltd., which subsequently became the largest office coffee service in the country.
In the early 1970s, as the infant OCS industry began to take shape in the United States, Daw gained fame for his memorable sales training seminars at conventions held by the National Coffee Service Association and many regional trade groups. He played a major role in building the professionalism of coffee service, and waged a persistent and ultimately triumphant fight against reducing pack weights rather than charging a fair price.
A passionate defender of the free market, Daw debated New York consumer activist Richard Kessel on CNBC, and was a guest on Good Morning America twice, representing the coffee industry. He lectured frequently on economics, and his "Stuart Daw Case History" on coffee pricing has been presented at colleges and universities around the world.
A prolific writer, Daw served for two years as coffee service editor of the Tea & Coffee Trade Journal and was a frequent contributor to industry publications in the U.S. and Canada, including VENDING TIMES. As a recognized authority on coffee, he was enlisted as an official coffee taster for the U.S. Treasury Department's Customs Service to identify the countries of origin of contraband coffee.
When the National Coffee Service Association worked with the International Coffee Organization (London) to conduct a nationwide coffee information program through the Coffee Development Group (originally Office Coffee Development Group), Daw served as a trainer for CDG's field representatives, known as the Coffee Ambassadors.
In 1984, Daw acquired a controlling interest in Heritage Coffee, which had been founded by two former employees of Stuart's Branded Coffee. He relocated to Florida's Gulf Coast to lead the company's U.S. branch, Southern Heritage Coffee.
In 1997, the Ontario Coffee and Vending Service Association created the "Stuart Daw Gold Service" award, presented annually to honor an operator for coffee excellence.
In 1998, Daw designed a "bean blending" workshop that has received accolades from participants, including those attending 1999's Canadian Coffee Expo in Toronto and Southeastern Refreshment Association fall meeting in Asheville, NC.
An original member of the National Beverage and Products Association's Hall of Fame, Daw was also recognized as OCS Supplier of the Year by the National Automatic Merchandising Association in 2000.
Daw is survived by son Kevin; daughters Laurie, Sandra, Wendy and Virginia; and stepdaughters Barbara and Brenda.
Memorial donations may be made to The Hospice of the Florida Suncoast.